Another Egyptian blogger disappears into the system



 
The Egyptian authorities yesterday issued an arrest warrant against 20-year-old Egyptian blogger, Mohammad Adel. But Adel has been missing since last Thursday, and there is reason to believe that he is being held at a secret services facility renowned for its torture practice.
 
By SALMA AL-WARDANI
 
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R.R.

CAIRO, November 25, 2008 (MENASSAT) – The General Prosecutor issued an order to arrest blogger Mohammad Adel on Tuesday – five days after friends and family said that he disappeared.

Many of his friends said that the decision came after Adel was accused of joining the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, since he had made numerous visits to Gaza recently, organizing aid campaigns for the besieged Strip.

News published on blogs, websites, forums and Facebook groups on Friday talked about a police raid against the house of Mohammad Adel, who runs the blog Meit. The police searched the house and confiscated the blogger's books and cd's, suggesting that the security forces are behind what friends and family are calling "the kidnapping" of Mohammad Adel.

Mohammad, 20, mysteriously disappeared on the Thursday night.

The blogger's father, Fahmi Adel, said that the authorities asked him to deliver anything belonging to his son Mohammad. He also added on the Meit blog that the disappearance of his son was predictable since he had been arrested before. The secret services raided the Adel house once before – a month after the blogger participated in a campaign to end the siege on Gaza.

Foreign journalist

According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), about 40 police  raided the Adel house. Although the father presented two petitions to the General Prosecution demanding to know the fate of his son and his whereabouts, he was assured that his son wasn't wanted by the authorities in any known case.

However, ANHRI has since received off-the-record information that Adel is in fact locked up in the infamous Ladhoghli secret services headquarters in Cairo, which are renowned for the torture operations that allegedly take place there on the fourth floor.

Witnesses said that the blogger was last seen on the Thursday before his disappearance in downtown Cairo. According to a cousin, one of Adel's friends spoke to him on the phone at 11 a.m. on that day. The blogger told the friend that he had an appointment with a foreign journalist at al-Boursa café in downtown Cairo. After that, Mohammad disappeared and his cellphone has been switched off ever since.

According to the Abna' Masr website, one of the foreign journalist's collaborators confirmed that the journalist, identified only as "Henry," did in fact have an appointment with Adel.

But when Henry went to meet with Mohammad at the al-Boursa café, he didn't find him there. He did however notice the presence of security members, one of whom approached him and looked him over. The journalist also heard "Mohammad is gone" coming from one of the officers' walkie-talkies.

The blogger’s friends think that his disappearance or arrest might be related to pictures Adel took while he was in Rafah in the Palestinian Territories during the recent "wall crisis." (In January 2008, tens of thousands of Gazans spilled through a hole in the wall seperating the Gaza Strip from Egypt.) Adel posted these pictures on his blog and on Facebook.

The young blogger, who is also a member of the Kifaya (enough) movement, which calls for change in Egypt, was arrested for two months in 2006 for participating in opposition demonstrations. 

Demonstrations

His house, along with the homes of two other bloggers,Bilal Alaa and Houssam Yehya, was raided on October 22, but Adel managed to escape arrest at the time.

Many bloggers and activists are already starting to mobilize in support of Mohammad Adel. Members of a Facebook group in opposition to the Mubarak regime, "Moush Ayzin al-Hizb al-Watani" (We Don't Want the National Party), organized a solidarity demonstration on Sunday in front of the Supreme Court in Cairo.

Dozens of youths from different political parties, including members of the April 6th Movement, also gathered to protest Adel's disappearance on Saturday November 22nd. During the demonstration, some lawyers presented a petition to the General Prosecutor, which was initially refused. The demonstrators then moved to the front door of the General Prosecutor's office, forcing him to accept the petition. The demonstration lasted from early morning until early evening, with those involved vowing it would not be the last. 

The Association for Egyptian Bloggers has denounced the arrest, saying that it is in violation of freedom of speech and expression as cited in the Egyptian constitution and the international human rights charters signed by the Egyptian government. 

Jamal Eid, the director of ANHRI, also weighed in.

"We urge the General Prosecutor to interfere and uncover the whereabouts of the kidnapped blogger, for the judicial system is our fortress to protect us from police abuse," said Eid.